Ministers have today announced new steps to ensure government supply chains are free from modern slavery, an umbrella term that encompasses the offences of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.
UK central Government spends around £52bn per year buying goods and services, and the wider public sector represents an additional £203bn annual spend. As such it is right for government to use its buying power to prevent modern slavery occurring in public sector supply chains, especially in high-risk sectors.
The new measures, developed to ensure government is able to tackle any risks of modern slavery in supply chains without placing undue burdens on businesses or officials, include:
New modern slavery guidance for government commercial practitioners at all levels to help identify and manage modern slavery risks in both existing contracts and new procurement activity.
An innovative assessment tool for departments to use with their suppliers to identify modern slavery risks.
A partnership with the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply to offer online training to commercial officials across government on how to identify and report modern slavery.
Oliver Dowden, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “As one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time, tackling modern slavery is a top priority, including in government supply chains. Transparency is key, and these new measures will be vital in ensuring that departments have the training, know-how and tools to identify and report modern slavery effectively in what can often be complex supply chains.”
Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said: “Modern slavery is a truly horrific crime and the government is committed to stopping it wherever and however it occurs. It’s dreadful to think that the products and services we use could, however indirectly, have involved exploitation in their supply chains. This guidance will help public sector bodies to mitigate that risk so that public money is not used to enable exploitation.”